Transporting dangerous goods within South Africa is a common practice as there is an extensive history of mining and the export of mineral resources. South Africa has the 10th largest road network worldwide and has a heavy reliance on road freight transport. Since this is the case motorist often share the roads with vehicles that transport dangerous goods. 

Important Legislation of Dangerous Goods.

The National Road Traffic Act, 93 of 1996 (NRTA) and the SANS specifications referred to in the NRT Regulations – reg 273A covers most of the requirements. However, up until around August 2000, the responsibility for the transportation and handling of Dangerous Goods was with the Department of Health under the Hazardous Chemicals Regulation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations as prescribed within the Hazardous Substance Act (15 of 1973). 

But this system poses a problem as it was difficult to regulate and enforce as the regulations were fragmented encompassing several different legislations and including the Hazardous Substance Act, Explosive Act, Mining Act, Fire Brigade Services Act and the Farm Feeds Agricultural and Stock Remedies Act (36 of 1947).

The regulations had specific limitations and only affected substances transported by road tankers in quantities in excess of 500 litres. This responsibility has now been transferred to the Department of Transport and was implemented in stages between August 2000 and October 2001 and replaced by new legislation prescribed within the National Road Traffic (93 of 1996) and a wide selection of the South African National Standards (SANS) codes of practice (formerly known as SABS or South African Bureau of Standards).

What are the SANS Requirements?

The South African National Standards have identified some applicable requirements when it comes to dangerous goods. Firstly, the dangerous goods must be identified with the correct classification which is provided on the list of dangerous goods and substances in SANS 10228. And must set out the following information including the United Nations Number, the correct shipping name, the hazard class assigned and other information pertinent to the substance.

The requirements also stipulate that the vehicle must undergo an inspection conveying dangerous goods. This code specifies the safety aspects of both the vehicle and the goods containment area.

Information and prescribed responsibilities of the owner or operator must be included in these requirements. It must outline the information required and who will have to supply information for the safe conveyance of dangerous goods. The requirements for the drafting and formulating of an operational agreement are also specified. Important to note that the operator or the vehicle must be registered as a dangerous goods carrier. 

Emergency Response

The SANS 10232 covers standard procedures of the initial response, in the form of Emergency Response Guides (ERGs), which are to be followed by a first responder upon arrival at the scene of an incident that involves the transport of materials that are classified as dangerous goods in accordance with SANS 10228. The ERGs are intended to be used by the first responder or by the emergency services until more detailed information on the properties of each material and its treatment becomes available. An ERG is compiled for a group of materials that share the same emergency response. ERGs facilitate the early assessment of the potential hazards and indicate the response that should be taken to mitigate the incident.

The Emergency Response Guidebook is intended for use in incidents that involve the transport of dangerous goods by road, in accordance with SANS 10232-1, and, to a limited extent, in incidents that involve goods in storage, in accordance with SANS 10263-0.

First Aid Response

When an incident occurs the first step to be taken is to identify the appropriate Emergency Response Guide for implementation at the scene of an incident is described in annex A. The safety precautions indicated in the Emergency Response Guidebook shall be strictly adhered to.

It is prohibited that any person should approach the spill or leakage unless the person is equipped with the appropriate personal protective clothing in accordance with the information given under the heading “Public safety” of the appropriate Emergency Response Guidebook.

Any incident can occur at any time, even if it is on our public roads or on a construction site. The transportation of dangerous goods may not be a common item that safety consultants come in contact with, but it is still a good practice to be familiar with the requirements. Take a look at these requirements to get a better understanding of some of the safety requirements of dangerous goods.

Our Services

Cairnmead Industrial Consultants are health and safety specialists within the industry and are passionate about sharing and educating the trade with our expertise. We have over 34 years of experience and we are driven to ensure all our sites are safe from incidents. 

Contact us to find out more:

Christof Lourens

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd

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